Get Real!

Finding ways to enjoy the hell out of life, while on our journey towards a healthy, authentic and passion-filled life.


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Get Real… about starting our journey to health (and weight loss).

Getting started on this journey to health (and weight loss)…

For some of us this journey is truly that, a journey, over months and years, with lots of changes, adjustments and growth. That being said, it is not easy. It’s not easy in the beginning, the middle or the end. It also doesn’t have to be super difficult either, the choices are all ours.

  1. Find Your Motivation:

I mean, what, deep down is the real reason you want to get real about losing weight and getting healthy? Is it a health issue that’s popped up in your life making you realize that taking better care of your body could help alleviate symptoms or help your body heal (this was a big one for me)? Was it a way you felt that you never want to feel again? Like when you heard remarks from others about your size, or even just when you made remarks/thoughts about your own size? Is it because you find you can’t do certain things that others can, like go on certain rides or other outdoor activities with size/weight limits, or just from lack of energy on its own?

Only you know the real reason/s why you want to make some changes. And it really helps to remember these reasons when times get tough and you are tempted to make a ‘poor’ food choice. Also, adjust your motivations as necessary: maybe in a few days, weeks or months the motivation you once had isn’t enough for you to continue on but maybe you can figure out a new motivation. I’ve had a rough year myself (not surprising, def. lots going on). I’m now trying to focus on being a positive role model for others, because how can I be the health coach I want to be some day if I’m not reaching for my full potential? Maybe you feel the same way about being role models for your friends, family, or children? Whatever the motivations are, hold on to them, and when they change go ahead and change what you’re holding on to.

  1. Don’t Exercise and Don’t Stop Eating Pizza (or do anything else you do don’t want to do):

Considering this is a life long journey, a lifestyle change, and that it may take years to get to your goal weight (depending on where you are starting from), it is important to remember that this needs to be something that will work for you. If exercising is just not something you even want to do, or something that you just honestly don’t have enough energy for….. then don’t do it. I would never tell anyone who wants to exercise not to. It’s very good for you in so many ways. And some people get their motivation for eating right from working out (they feel like they want to eat healthily or they essentially worked out for no reason). However, if feeling like you need to work out in order to lose weight, is holding you back from trying than drop that feeling!

First of all, it’s not true at all. I lost at least 40 pounds (nearly half of the weight I had to lose in the first place) before even really considering working out. I’ve heard different statistics different places, but the rule of thumb is generally that 80% of our efforts for weight loss need to be food/nutrition related. It makes sense. Say you go a day without working out (let’s say a moderately paced hour long workout) and you miss out on having burned 300 calories. Ok. Now, let’s make a similar, but nutritionally related, ‘mistake’ instead and have fast food at one of our meals, and now we’ve added 1500 extra calories for the day. It’s easy to see which choices are going to hurt us more.

The point, really, is that if there is something holding you back then let it go, like thinking you will have to work out, or thinking that you can never have pizza or ice cream again, or thinking that you will have to eat vegetables. Eventually, it would be good to add in some workouts, and limit the pizza or ice cream (and/or try new healthier alternatives, like making your own, or buying goat or almond milk ice cream), and yes eventually on the path to health you will likely be eating more vegetables. But these changes don’t have to happen yet, not if you’re not ready for them.

Some people like to just jump all in, and I say that’s fine too. If it works for you. And if it stops working for you, don’t give up just change things up. In the beginning of my journey I never thought about how I would be exercising one day, and I really never dreamed I’d eat any vegetables ever (and now I eat tons, and actually enjoy them too!). Start making changes, and as you learn more about what is healthy and what’s not, keep making changes. And as you start to notice certain things working and certain things not, again keep making changes.

  1. Always Remember That This is a Choice:

It helps to remember you have a choice, because you do. When someone brings your favorite cookie into work, you have a few choices. Eat none, and continue on your journey. Eat one (or maybe even two), and continue on your journey. Or eat a whole plateful, get quite sick, gain ¼ of a pound the next day, and then continue on your journey. During my journey, I have picked all three at different times. You think we would just wise up and never pick that third option, but what can I say?

Now, when I really get into trouble is when I choose option #3, and then keep on choosing that option (I’ll restart Monday, I screwed today up so I’m just going to make it a day or weekend long ‘cheat’). I may never be able to completely move on from my food addictions/issues. I don’t know. But I do know that I always have the choice to continue on my journey no matter how far off track I may wander. And that’s ok. Sure, it would be nice to be at my goal weight already. But as long as I get there, I’m ok and I will be ok. And so will you :).

  1. Continue to do What Works:

I have tried it all, I started with calorie counting, tracking, menu planning, journaling and weighing in each week. Then I threw the scale away (literally walked it down the street and placed it in garbage can at the nearby park, I thought it would feel more liberating than it did but hey), and stopped tracking and menu planning. Then I bought a new scale and started menu planning again. Then I went Vegan. Then I started Juicing daily, then I stopped, then I started again. Ok this all may not be in the right order. But the point is this whole thing is such a continual and ever-changing process. Just continue to go with it, and do what works for you!

  1. Set Yourself up for Success:

Plan ahead (cooking a lot of brown rice and black beans for the week, for example). Know when you are running out of healthy foods. Have back up snacks in your purse, at work and at home for when hunger strikes. If you want a treat, plan it in (many times this helps with not feeling guilty, and then we really will just have the treat and move on). Don’t keep your worst desired sweets or other junk food in the house (buy an individual size if you want a treat, or if family wants it), because one bad moment and you’ll be eating it.

  1. Keep it Simple:

Meals don’t have to be extraordinary. In fact during the times I have had the most weight loss, I ate very similar and basic meals each day (brown rice, veggies and goat cheese is my usual dinner these days, or eggs, tomatoes and goat cheese — I think it’s delicious yet it’s so healthy and low calorie). Trying to plan full meals each night (spaghetti, tacos, etc.) usually ends up turning out to be meals with much higher calorie counts than you thought even if you are using healthy ingredients. So don’t be afraid to just keep it simple (most of the time, but allow for other meals once or twice a week too). But again, whatever works for you!

 

Always remember, we all have different constraints. Do the best you can with what you have and what you know. If you do that, you will continue to grow. 


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Get Real! (about which diet is right for you)

What is the right diet for me?

Paleo, vegan, clean, raw, alkaline, grain-free, the list can go on.

You can easily google any of these terms and find a plethora of information advising both for and against the diet type. Now, I believe that there really may be a diet that really is the healthiest to follow. Period. However, I don’t know that (in our lifetime anyway) we will find the end all, be all, answer. And even if/when that ever happens, there will always be those with particular health needs that require a different set of food guidelines for optimum health.

Even within my own blog, you can see times when I have aimed for Paleo, a couple months I was vegan, a time when I thought that store bought orange juice was a good way to get more Vitamin D. That is part of what my motto is all about. Do the best you can with what you have and what you know. As I knew better, I did better. And that really is all we can do: the best we can. And we always need to consider too, based on our experiences, what has worked for us (in terms of how we feel, how we are able to digest our food, and if weight loss is a goal what has helped us lose weight).

Now, as far as the ‘healthiest’ diet ever, there are certain things that are not arguable at all though (color me shocked if I ever dispute any of my words here). Things that, across all diet types, do not change.

  • Water: This should be our primary source of liquid each day. Some may recommend black coffee or tea as well. Some may recommend probiotic liquids (kombucha, kefir). NONE will ever recommend drinking any processed beverages such as soda, energy drinks, fruit or vegetable juices (other than ones that are made only of fruits and veggies, with no additional chemicals, preservatives or sugars).
  • Vegetables: The more the better! Some may recommend eliminating or restricting certain vegetables (ones that are higher in acidity content, sugar or starches, for example). Some may recommend only eating these raw, or juiced, or cooked. Some say that it is best to eat a combination of raw, juiced and cooked veggies as each method provides different nutrients that are not available to us in the other forms. For example, juicing strips the fiber (some think this is bad), but allows for quick absorption of the nutrients (which, actually, some may think is bad as well), and also makes certain nutrients available to us which would have been lost in the parts of the food we were never able to fully digest. Cooking veggies, on the other hand, can either accentuate or ‘bring out’ certain nutritional aspects OR can break down or ‘lose’ nutrients in the process (depending on the veggie). Raw advocates believe that any cooking of a food breaks down the nutrients and creates carcinogens that are not healthy and natural for us and can disrupt our digestive system.
  • No Processed foods: No matter which diet type we are looking at, none will ever recommend the use of processed foods, though some believe they are ok in moderation (depending upon how processed, of course). Some believe we should stay away from meat, dairy, or grains, but all would say that in whatever we eat — we should choose the least processed option. A block of cheese (without added ingredients) rather than pre shredded or other processed cheeses (watch out for ‘singles,’ and other completely fake cheeses). Organic chicken breasts rather than processed sandwich meats (with added salts, sugars, etc.). Apples juiced by us rather than a store bought apple juice.
  • No added sugars (other than fruit, honey, molasses, maple syrup): Many diet types recommend no sugar at all (including fruit), but many believe that natural sources (the ones I just listed) are ok in small amounts.
  • Healthy Fats: Believe it or not, none of these diets say anything about avoiding fats! Of course, it depends on where these fats are coming from. But on just about every diet type I can think of (even alkaline) raw avocados and raw almonds are recommended as a healthy fat! Many believe olive oil (uncooked) is also a good source. And for the diet types that do not eliminate dairy or meat, some believe that butter (as unprocessed as possible), and the oil derived from cooking animal fat, is also healthy in moderation.
  • Fruits: Most diet types do recommend fruits in our daily diet. But, due to higher sugar and acidity content, the type of fruits and amount of fruits to be consumed varies. With juicing, it is important to note that with all the fiber being stripped, too much sugar in one juice will sure raise our blood sugar quickly all at once. Whereas eating fruits whole, or in combination with veggie juice may be a better alternative.

So far, we can drink water (and maybe tea or kombucha), we can eat fruits and veggies (especially raw or juiced, and keeping in mind the amount of sugar involved), and we do not need to stay away from fats, so we can eat avocado and almonds (almost) to our hearts desire. Beyond this, things may get a bit more tricky.

  • Whole Grains: Many diet types recommend avoiding all grains, believing that our body cannot digest them properly which causes a variety of problems. This would include rices, breads, pastas, corn, oats, beans, peanuts (almonds, again, still ok). The diets which believe whole grains are good for us (or even essential), only recommend whole grains that have not been heavily processed. So our packages should all say 100% whole grain (or 100% whatever type of grain it is, like 100% whole wheat) AND there should not be any ingredients we don’t understand on the label.
  • Organic Meats and Eggs: Some diet types suggest avoiding all meat, while some highly recommend it. In any case, if we do eat it, it is one of the most important foods that we should choose to buy organic. This is because when we buy non organic meats, there are no guarantees on what the animals were fed (if we are trying to be paleo, but are eating animals which eat grains, than we, in turn, are eating a little bit of that grain in the meat we eat), what chemicals were pumped into the animals, etc.
  • Organic Dairy: Again, many diet types suggest avoiding all dairy, while some recommend a limited amount or only certain forms of it. Paleo, in some cases, advocates for ghee, for example (a pure whole form of butter). Goats products are thought by some to be healthier, easier to digest, etc. than cows products.

So, to make a very long story short. I, personally, do not believe there is a ‘one size fits all’ diet type out there. Especially not when we are really looking at the big picture and all possibilities. Remember! We all have different constraints. Do the best you can with what you have and what you know. If you do that you will continue to grow. 


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Get Real about Meal Prepping (for a healthy lifestyle).

I love to cook, especially when I have plenty of extra time and energy. But, to be realistic, this is not much of the time. I really have to plan ahead to succeed in eating healthily, or it becomes too easy to grab something quick, ‘cheap’ and horrible for my digestion system. Especially when there are often goodies at my workplace, and when my boyfriend can eat a tub of sugar right in front of me each day and not gain a pound (not that he does this often!).

Many people seem to plan their meal prepping on one of their days off. But let’s get real, that’s what I want to do on one of my very few days off per week? No! So I do mine after work, usually on Monday or Tuesday.

Meal prep is exactly what it sounds like, planning ahead for the week (either very detailed with a menu for each day, or looser with a few options that you can choose from as you go), and pre-cooking or preparing as much of the food as possible. The items that you can pre-cook anyway.

Here is what a typical pre-meal prep grocery trip might look like (and this is for 2, as far as dinners are concerned anyway):

      • Whole Grain bread (ideally sprouted grain)
      • Whole grain tortillas (large and sliders)
      • Goat Cheese (easier on digestive system for most of us, and less fat/calories per ounce as well)
      • Organic Eggs
      • A few Avocados and tomatoes (especially heirloom, yum!)
      • Random Veggies: Generally Bell Peppers, Mushrooms, Onions, and Garlic
      • Salsa Ingredients: Jalapeno, Onion, Cilantro, Tomatoes, Garlic (or buy freshly prepared salsa to save time and possibly money, remember no weird chemicals or salt/sugar should listed in ingredients!)
      • Jam Ingredients: Any type of fruit you would like and chia seeds as listed below, especially stone fruits and berries (or buy no sugar added jam, with as few ingredients listed as possible)
      • Random Fruits (for grab and go snacks): Bananas, Grapes, Berries, etc.
      • Meat (I am going meatless right now! But the boyfriend still ‘needs’ it): chicken, or ground turkey, etc.
      • (I, personally, also make sure to keep apples, lemons, ginger, cucumber and greens — spinach, kale or chard — on hand because I juice these every morning.)

The following I buy as needed (mostly from the bulk bin area), so a big bag will often last a month or more:

        • Natural Peanut Butter (almond, peanut or cashew, and the nut should be the only ingredient listed or possibly sea salt)
        • Dry Black Beans (can buy canned, but check ingredient list and it should only be black beans and sea salt)
        • Brown Rice (or wild rice or quinoa)
        • Chia Seeds
        • Nuts and Seeds (no added salts or sugars!)
        • Something else you will need: Tupperware or Glass containers of various sizes!

On meal prep day, I would do the following

        • The night before: Soak the black beans in a bowl of water (like 2 cups beans and 6 cups of water)
        • In a large pot, bring 2 ½ cups of brown rice and 5 cups of water to a boil (or check the cooking instructions for whatever type of rice you have gotten), cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 45-50 minutes. Let cool and then put into a tupperware to go in the fridge.
        • In a large pot, pour black beans, extra water, and spices (cumin, sea salt, chili powder) and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low (uncovered) and simmer for a couple hours. Let cool and then put into a tupperware to go in the fridge.
        • Salsa: Chop up all ingredients, place into food processor, blend and store in a tupperware to go in the fridge.
        • Clean the food processor, and chop up the fruits (about 2 cups) for the jam, place into food processor, blend. Add 2 Tablespoons of chia seed and stir together very well. Pour mixture into a jar, and place in fridge (it will thicken up within a few hours).
        • Pan Fry Ground chicken/Turkey with spices and coconut oil, or boil 2-3 chicken breasts for 20 minutes. Take out the chicken and either shred with forks or in a ktichen-aid. Add spices as well and mix up again. Let cool, and store in tupperware in the fridge.
        • Pan Fry Veggies in coconut oil and spices (bell peppers, mushrooms, onions, etc.). Let cool and store in tupperware in the fridge.

When all is said and done you should have the following in your fridge/pantry:

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  •  Tortillas and Bread
        • Jam and Peanut Butter
        • Eggs
        • Whole Grain Rice and Black Beans
        • Salsa
        • Shredded Chicken (or Ground Turkey)
        • Cheese
        • Avocados and Tomatoes
        • Veggie Mix
        • Fruits/Nuts to grab for snacks throughout the day

 

 

Now, there are several options for what to actually ‘cook’ and most of the hard work/time has already been put in, here are some ideas:

        • Quesadilla w/goat cheese and veggies (can make a quick guacamole on the side by mashing half an avocado and a spoonful or two of salsa)
        • Peanut butter and jam sandwich
        • Slice of toast with jam
        • Rice bowl: rice, beans, veggies, goat cheese, salsa (can add meat)
        • Egg bowl: scrambled eggs, beans, veggies, goat cheese, salsa (can add meat)
        • Slice of toast with a slice of tomato and a fried egg, topped with avocado slices and a splash of salsa or hot sauce
        • Mini tacos (use the slider tortillas): black beans, goat cheese, salsa and some more of that quick guacamole (can add meat)
        • Slice of toast with peanut butter and sliced bananas
        • Sandwich with goat cheese, avocado and tomato

Remember we all have different constraints. Do the best you can with what you have and what you know. If you do that, you will continue to grow. 


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Get Real about Food Labels and Ingredient Lists

So you have made some decisions about what you would like to put in your body? Organic. Whole grains. No added sugar. These are just some examples, as I realize all of our goals can be very different.

One obstacle that can sometimes get in the way of eating how we want to eat, that we may not always be thinking about, is food labels, packaging, and ingredients. Some products make claims on their labels that exaggerate positive nutritional aspects or minimize negative nutritional aspects (or both at the same time). Some products change their packaging/labeling to promote a certain aspect of the product, even though it is exactly the same as it’s formerly-packaged cousin. Some products use organic or whole grain ingredients, but also use highly refined ingredients as well. They claim ‘with organic _____’ or ‘contains whole grains.’ This does not mean the products are 100% organic or whole grain, and in fact there may be very little in the product that actually is.

Here are some helpful tips to help keep things real!

  • The ingredients are listed on the label in order, as far as how much of the ingredient is in the product from most to least. A trick that can catch you off guard is if they classify different types of an ingredient. For example, they may list out cane sugar, beet sugar, and HFCS. Well, separated out, these may be in the product in small enough amounts that they got moved down the ingredient list, but added together it could still make up a large portion of the ingredients in the product.
  • Another thing to pay attention to on the ingredients list is: all the ingredients! I don’t even bother reading an ingredient list if I glance at it and can easily see dozens of ingredients listed. There are lots of things that can be hidden behind this ingredients list. Types of sugars/sweeteners that you may not know the name of, other chemicals used to preserve food or change its taste or color. ‘Natural flavor’ can be derived from anything in nature (whether plant or animal based). For example, Foodbabe, shined the light on raspberry and vanilla flavoring often coming from secretions from a beavers anal glands.
  • Whole grains. Unless a product says 100% whole grain (or 100% whole wheat, 100% whole oat, etc.), then it is likely not 100% whole grain. It may only be 2% whole grain, but they are able to label it this way. So, ‘with whole grains,’ ‘with 9g of whole grains,’ ‘includes whole grains,’ etc. does not mean 100%. If you are unsure, check the ingredient list, any grain listed (whether corn, oat, buckwheat, spelt, wheat flour, etc.) should have the word whole in front of it. And again these are listed in order, so if the ingredients say wheat flour, corn flour, whole wheat flour, then the whole grains are not the majority of the grains in the product.
  • Organics. Even within organic products (that promise to be pesticide and unnecessary chemical free) you want to check the ingredient lists as sugars, salts and natural flavors can still exist. But, at least, if a product is labeled ‘certified organic’ then all ingredients included are indeed organic. However if the label states, ‘with organic _____’, then only the ingredient specified is organic and other ingredients within the product are not. There is much more to the topic of organic foods, including ways that non organic practices or ingredients can sneak into our ‘certified organic’ foods, as well as how there may be small or local companies that practice organic food making, but are not certified and thus not labeled as such. However, I will leave this for a different, more detailed, blog about organics later.
  • Check the nutrition labels on everything. You never can be too sure, no matter what the label boasts. HFCS is hiding out just about everywhere (drinks, sauces, dressings, you name it). Sugar and salt are often included in seasoning packets or mixes. I accidently used a ‘lemon pepper’ seasoning mix one time, and upon tasting it (as it tasted of pure salt) I looked and saw that the first two ingredients listed were salt and sugar (and then somewhere down the list was a hint of lemon and pepper).


This is really when it’s relevant to remind you: Do the best you can with what you have and what you know. If you do that, you will continue to grow.


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What real weight loss looks like.

 Real Weight Loss: What it looks like!

Weight Loss and Gain

I’m both slightly embarrassed, and strangely proud and empowered to post this today. All of our journeys  with weight, food, health and activity are very different. Some of us (of all sizes) have really had to struggle. Others (of all sizes) may have never even thought twice about what they eat or what they weigh. I am definitely in the part of the population that HAS struggled. Whether genetics, environment (what I ate and did while growing up), or my specific life situations are to ‘blame’……. I have struggled big time!

At 12, in 6th grade when they weigh us all in the gym (part of the Presidents Fitness Test or something?), I was already 137 pounds and embarrassed that some of my peers may have heard this number! But by the time I started high school, with an eating disorder in full swing, I was only 108 pounds. I still thought I was fat. My mom would walk in on me in the middle of the night (2 AM) and I’d be working out. She had to take my door off the hinges when she cleaned my room for me one day only to find diet coke cans filled with puik that I hadn’t emptied into the toilet yet (GROSS, I know!).

By the time I graduated from the Junior College years later I was an uncomfortable 210 pounds or so. When the four rings that I wore daily, including my high school class ring and the first ring a boy ever gave me, were too tight on my fingers, I felt ashamed. Fingers can get fat too? My goodness! I joined weightwatchers and lost 45 pounds.

Around the ages of 20-21, I started drinking alcohol and eating more. It wouldn’t be uncommon for me to eat 3 fast food meals per day, a fourth if I was wasted and needed Jack in the Box at 2 AM even though I already ate dinner. It really should have been no surprise when, only a few years later, I was at my highest weight ever: 260 pounds! I found out that a boy I had ‘dated’ had told my friends that ‘at least he got to date me while I was still cute.’ And then I was at the movies with a few friends when we got popcorn thrown at us by some boys (jr. high aged or younger), as they made ‘quiet’ remarks about how fat we all were. It brings tears to my eyes even now that people can be so cruel. My struggle has been difficult, even without the remarks and silent thoughts of others.

A few years ago, I was diagnosed with a ‘non cancerous’ but aggressive tumor. For a week, I thought (based on what doctors had told me) that I had a high grade cancer, and I cried myself to sleep every night. I also vowed to myself that I would start taking better care of me. I slowly (VERY slowly, over a couple years) changed from a diet which consisted of ONLY processed foods and drinks (fast food, microwavable foods, diet coke, no water, no fruits/veggies), to a diet with no soda whatsoever, lots of fruits and veggies, and processed foods only 10% of the time or so. I lost 70 pounds! I thought I was on top of it. This was it! I felt amazing!

Well, throw in a major surgery (where even a year later, I wouldn’t say I’m completely recovered, and the tumor they took out is back and painful again as well), a new boyfriend (a live-in boyfriend, the first serious one in at least 5 years), and I am actually proud to say I only gained 27 pounds over the last year and a half or so. I can post this today because I have re-lost 10 of these pounds and am finally in the swing of things again. But the problem is we don’t think about the struggle when we are doing well, losing weight, feeling good. But we need to, because at whatever size we are at, for some of us the struggle will remain forever and always.

To any girl or woman out there struggling, I am here with you in spirit. I am here when you cry during clothing shopping trips because it just isn’t fun anymore (or maybe it never was). I am here when you silently carry around the shame and embarrassment that other people PUT on you for not fitting their ideal expectation of beauty. I am here for you when you are struggling with decisions regarding what you are feeding your body, even when you make the wrong choices. But I am also here when you decide (with no commitments, deadlines, or expectations) that you value your health enough to make some changes. To realize when you’ve gone off track and get yourself back on. And, I’m here when you have climbed the mountain in front of you (maybe literally!). And you have done this for no one else, only for you! For your health, well being, and future.

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Today, more than ever, remember that we all have different constraints. Do the best you can with what you have and what you know, and if you do that you will continue to grow. 


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Real Clean: Make Ahead Mini Omelettes

Another recipe that’s not really a recipe. All you need is a muffin tin (or two), eggs, and whatever meats or veggies you would like in your omelettes. 

Set the oven to pre-heat to 350. Then, just chop up your veggies and meats and saute them with a bit of olive oil. Just recently, I used red bell pepper, white onion, white mushrooms and a touch of cilantro in mine. Feel free to use whatever your heart desires! Spray the muffin tins with olive oil, or rub coconut oil on the inside of each mold (VERY important!). Drop a spoonful of your fillings into each muffin mold. Now either crack an egg into each mold and leave it to bake with the yolk still intact, or scramble them all together and pour each mold about 3/4 full with the egg scramble. Bake for 18-20 minutes. 

Top with cheese, salsa, avocado, or anything else you wish! Keep these stored in an airtight container in the fridge for an easy reheatable meal option!

And remember, we all have different constraints. Do the best you can with what you have and what you know. If you do that, you will continue to grow.